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Keeping Up with the Conference: Week 3 Power Rankings

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The Big 12 (mostly) balled out on Saturday, resulting in lots of movement in this week’s power rankings

HornSports

Finally, Big 12 Conference play is upon us.

After three opening weekends featuring non-conference opponents, most of the Big 12 dives head-first into conference play. The fist quarter of the season helped shed some light on the current state of the Big 12. It still looks like there’s two heavy hitters (Oklahoma and Texas), but the teams underneath last year’s No. 1 and No. 2 are still shaking out.

Among the rest of the conference, there’s scrappy dark-horse teams that are hoping to sneak their way into the Big 12 Championship, such as TCU, Baylor, and Oklahoma State. Teams such as Iowa State and Texas Tech may have less than perfect records, but have talent in key positions to upset anyone on a given weekend. Even K-State, WVU, and Kansas, with new coaches at the helm, provide a certain unknown quantity that should add intrigue to the Big 12 race.

Either way you look at it, this is shaping up to be a fun season of Big 12 play, and it kicks off with a bang in a primetime Okie State at Texas matchup this weekend. But before getting too much into the future, it’s time to look at and analyze the past with this week’s edition of BON’s Keeping Up with the Conference Power Rankings.

A reminder that the Power Rankings are not meant to reflect the current standings. They’ll be based on a combination of season performance, heavily weighing more recent games, and will take into consideration opponent quality compared to the rest of the conference.

BIG 12 POWER RANKINGS

Previous week ranking is in [BRACKETS]

1. (5) Oklahoma [1]

Last week: W at UCLA, 48-14

Highlight: Another week, another game in which QB Jalen Hurts leads the way en route to a huge Sooners win. A Heisman front-runner, Hurts threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns on 15-of-20 passing, and added 150 yards and a touchdown on just 14 rushing attempts, including these two long attempts to help get OU on the board.

Trending: NEUTRAL. Until Oklahoma shows a glaring weakness or gets taken out by another team, they’ll remain at the top of these power rankings. The defense shut down a mostly inept UCLA team, but the offense obliterated the Bruins and really look the part of a playoff-caliber offense. The Sooners get the week off before hosting the Red Raiders in Norman.

Next Up: off Week 4, 9/28 vs Texas Tech, Saturday TBD

2. (12) Texas [2]

Last week: W vs Rice, 48-13

Highlight: In a victory full of scores and exciting plays, the Longhorns provided plenty of highlight tape material in their 35-point victory over the Owls. However, the highlight of the game came from the last score; a 98 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by D’Shawn Jamison that got Texas back up above the 32-point spread to cover in their game against Rice. Remember, good teams win, but great teams cover.

Trending: NEUTRAL. A great bounce back from LSU and HVAC-gate, the Longhorns re-asserted their dominance in a good old-fashioned beat down of Rice. Ehlinger did Ehlinger things, throwing for almost as many scores (3) as he threw incompletions (4). He also averaged a lofty 10.3 yards per attempt, making for his most efficient game of the year. Texas will open up Big 12 play in what should be a great game set for primetime with a matchup against the OSU Cowboys.

Next Up: vs Oklahoma State, Saturday 6:30 p.m. Central (on ABC)

3. TCU [5]

Last week: W at Purdue, 34-13

Highlight: RB Darius Anderson carried the Horned Frogs to their second win on the season, totaling 179 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries. One of those carries was this one, which resulted in a 32-yard touchdown to give TCU the lead.

Trending: UP. TCU derailed Purdue on their own field, and thus the Frogs crack the top 25 rankings for the first time since nearly a year ago, when they were ranked No. 17 prior to losing to Texas in Austin. TCU gained an impressive 421 yards and logged 23 first downs while holding the Boilermakers to 204 yards and only eight first downs. The Frogs also easily won the time of possession, 40:33 to 19:27. The passing is the major weakness of this team (just 8-of-24 for 75 yards in this game) but if TCU is able to run for 346 yards on just 58 carries in every game, they’ll be capable of steamrolling their opponents.

Next Up: vs SMU, 2:30 pm. Central (on FS1)

4. Baylor [3]

Last week: off Week 3

Trending: NEUTRAL. You can’t knock a team for taking a scheduled week off, but due to TCU’s success this past weekend and all season long, Baylor slides a spot in the rankings. The Bears are a good team that could easily put together an eight or nine-win campaign, but until they play a serious opponent, they’ll remain under the radar. This week they face off against Rice in their final non-conference game of the season.

Next Up: at Rice, Saturday 6:00 p.m. Central (on CBS Sports)

5. Oklahoma State [6]

Last week: W at Tulsa, 40-21

Highlight: Oklahoma State entered halftime trailing at Tulsa 20-21. Their offense had largely relied on RB Chuba Hubbard up to that point, but flipped a switch in the second half. QB Spencer Sanders found WR Tylan Wallace in stride for a 90-yard score to push the Cowboy lead to 12 points as part of a 21-0 scoring run to end the game.

Trending: NEUTRAL. If you look at just the box score, you’d expect the trend for this team to be pointing up. However, two things with this team can’t be ignored. First: QB Spencer Sanders looked lost for much of the first half, and ended the game at just 12-of-22 for 169 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT (and remember, 90 yards and all one of his TD’s came via the long ball to WR Tylan Wallace). Second: the defense did an awful job of slowing down the Golden Hurricane. This is a team that would be lucky to make the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, yet they threw up 238 yards through the air and 158 yards on the ground. The Cowboys have a big game at Texas this weekend, where they’ll have a golden chance to better their position in these power rankings. But I’m not totally sold on this team just yet.

Next Up: at (12) Texas, Saturday 6:30 p.m. Central (on ABC)

6. Iowa State [4]

Last week: L vs (19) Iowa, 17-18

Highlight: College GameDay. A huge in-state rivalry. Night game at Ames. This one had all the makings of a monumental Cyclones victory that would propel them back into the top 25 and correct their season. Unfortunately, their game and chance to win quite literally came crashing down on a horrendous special teams error that allowed Iowa to salt away the clock and the one-point win.

Trending: DOWN. There’s no proof that Iowa State would’ve gone on to score and win that game, but for a mistake like that to be the cause of a loss is truly devastating. Iowa State put up good numbers against a pesky Iowa defense this week (QB Brock Purdy threw for 276 yards and 1 TD, and ISU out-gained Iowa 418 yards to 313), but fell victim to an Iowa fourth-quarter comeback to suffer an agonizing loss. This game was much better than their first win, when they slept-walked into a 29-26 3OT win over Northern Iowa. But the Cyclones now need to regroup in their final tune-up before Big 12 play.

Next Up: UL Monroe, 11:00 a.m. Central (on FS1)

7. Kansas State [8]

Last week: W at Mississippi State, 31-24

Highlight: In what ended up being a gritty back-and-forth game, Kansas State found itself down 24-17 after a Mississippi State field goal. This 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by WR Malik Knowles erased the lead and momentum for Mississippi State and ultimately helped propel Kansas State to a hard-fought win on the road.

BONUS: I would be remiss if I didn’t also include this clip of MSU QB Garrett Shrader going full rosencopter.

Trending: UP. A huge win against a good opponent on the road pushes Kansas State up in the rankings. K-State begins the season at 3-0, just a year after finishing 5-7. The Wildcats didn’t muster up many yards in this game (just 123 in the air and 146 on the ground) but their defense and special teams limited the Bulldogs to an 11-of-27 passing game for just 151 yards and forced three turnovers to go with the kickoff return touchdown. K-State is off this weekend and opens up play next weekend with a road game in Stillwater.

Next Up: Off week 4, 9/28 at Oklahoma State 6:00 p.m. Central (on ESPN+)

8. Texas Tech [7]

Last week: L at Arizona, 14-28

Highlight: The tough road loss at Arizona came with plenty of offense for the Red Raiders, as the teams combined for 910 total yards on the day. A large chunk of those yards came from one play — an 84-yard keeper on the option that Arizona QB Khalil Tate housed in the second quarter to put Arizona up, 13-7.

Trending: DOWN. After leading 14-13 going into the fourth quarter, Arizona scored 15 unanswered points to get away from Tech and win the game. Bowman wasn’t particularly sharp in this one, going just 30-of-55 for 307 yards, with one touchdown to two interceptions. Texas Tech will get a week off to regroup, but their next game will be a big one — a road date at Oklahoma awaits them as their Big 12 conference opener.

Next Up: off Week 4, 9/28 at (5) Oklahoma, Saturday TBD

9. Kansas [10]

Last week: W at Boston College, 48-24

Highlight: The Jayhawks ran all over the Eagles in this one, and two RB’s in particular had huge games. RB Khalil Herbert led the way on the ground with 187 yards on just 11 carries, but RB Pooka Williams Jr. served as the bellcow with 22 carries for 121 yards. 12 of those yards came from this late touchdown run that helped put Kansas up for good.

Trending: UP. Just an “UP” probably doesn’t do this game justice in describing how monumental this win was for the Jayhawks. On the road as 20-point underdogs, Kansas ended an 0-48 skid in road games against Power Five opponents (last victory was Oct. 4, 2008 at Iowa State). On top of the win, Kansas put up 329 yards on the ground. Les Miles will take his program back home to face West Virginia.

Next Up: vs West Virginia, Saturday 3:30 p.m. Central (on ESPN+)

10. West Virginia [9]

Last week: W vs NC State, 44-27

Highlight: This game was tied at the half, with each team putting up 21 points after two quarters of play. After WVU opened up second-half play with a field goal to put them up 24-21, the Mountaineer defense was able to force a fourth down on the ensuing NC State drive. This blocked punt deep in NC State’s own half of the field helped set up a touchdown-scoring drive, and would give the Mountaineers an insurmountable lead.

Trending: UP. A nice bounce-back win for WVU as they were able to take care of the visiting Wolfpack. WVU finally got a decent game out of transfer QB Austin Kendall, who threw for 272 yards and three scores in the game. WVU falls in the power rankings only because Kansas’ win came on the road, but that shouldn’t discredit what was the first good game we’ve seen from WVU this season.

Next Up: at Kansas, Saturday 3:30 p.m. Central (on ESPN+)

BIG 12 STANDINGS (THROUGH WEEK 3)

  1. (5) Oklahoma [3-0]
  2. Oklahoma State [3-0]
  3. Kansas State [3-0]
  4. (25) TCU [2-0]
  5. Baylor [2-0]
  6. (12) Texas [2-1]
  7. Kansas [2-1]
  8. Texas Tech [2-1]
  9. West Virginia [2-1]
  10. Iowa State [1-1]

STAT OF THE WEEK

In proper fashion, Sam celebrated this statistical achievement with a nice, hearty dinner at Vince Young Steakhouse. Duvernay also continues to prosper in the slot, as the wide out continues to pace the nation in receptions.

PARTING SHOT

Tell your kids about an 11-1 Kansas.

And a little Throwback Thursday for you, courtesy of the great Sergio Kindle.